How to become a learning organization

Continuous improvement as the key to success

In times of the VUCA world, the motto "change or die" shapes the business world. Who does not join in with the rapid changes in the (IT) world and doesn´t adapt, is left behind. Smart learning is essential to the survival of the entire organization and a crucial key for continuous improvement. It can bring the technical know-how with innovative and interactive methods and stimulates efficient knowledge exchange within the teams.

If you are responsible for bringing latest technologies and developments to your team and providing state-of-the-art know-how, you're probably going to be challenged by how best to tackle it. E-learning trainings and conferences are great ways to educate and network, but there are interactive methods that can share your employees' knowledge efficiently and cost-effectively in the company.


"Knowledge is the only good that multiplies when you share it."


IT experts are known to have a very deep and extensive knowledge of specific areas. In order for your company to experience little dependence and isolation from individual specialists, knowledge transfer measures are necessary. This can happen within the team as well as the whole organization.

The requirements for this are openness, the willingness to share knowledge, learning and curiosity as well as commitment - from your employees as well as yourself.


Which options are there for you and your team to try out?


Best practice sessions

Gather up with your team and organize a fixed monthly appointment in which a team member presents an event or a part of a project that has been particularly successful. The following questions should be answered briefly and succinctly.

  • What was the challenge?
  • Why did it work well?
  • What is necessary that will continue to work so well in the future?


The agreement of speakers and topics should be done independently and continuously within the team. If an Agile Coach is available, he sets the framework and supports the organization. We recommend sessions with a maximum of 30 minutes.


Retrospectives

Who says retrospectives always need to be done within scrum teams? If you are looking for lifelong learning and continuous improvement, retrospectives are important in order to shed light on past work with different partners.

Sit down regularly with your stakeholders, customers and teams, look critically at the past few weeks and collect positive and negative input. Be proud of the topics that went very well! And consider challenges that have been mastered less well as chances to do better next time. Be sure to record your results and focus on a maximum of five improvement points that you want to focus on over the next few weeks: Who does what until when?


Book Clubs

A learning method for bookworms. Is there a new exciting topic for some of your teammates to learn, or is it simply essential for you to keep up with the latest developments? Then suggest a "Book Club". Once a month, the most interesting articles in the current edition of your chosen literature (online, book or magazine) are discussed. The goal: Up to date knowledge and interactive exchange on the latest developments within the team.


Fail smartly

Mistakes are always unpleasant. To make the most of them, fail smartly! Edison needed more than 3000 trials before he developed a working light bulb. Despite the considerable number of attempts, he always knew he had made another discovery - the one that did not work. Therefore, every mistake is an important piece of information for the future.

Similar to the Best Practice Sessions, processes or projects that failed get presented in the group. Plus a meaningful and constructive discussion afterwards. The Agile Coach needs to be very sensitive here. No one likes to talk about his mistakes in front of others. It's best to start with it yourself and openly and honestly show how you handle your mistakes. To create a positive culture of failing in the organization and build openness, understanding and trust.


Innovation Lab

Good ideas come to you and your team spontaneously, but the implementation never really realizes? Organize a one-day workshop on a quarterly basis, where the teams can come together and present their ideas. The Innovation Lab is a sheltered space where you can brainstorm, experiment, try, and create "crazy" ideas.

Finally, when an idea will be implemented, teams should be able to come together on their own to create their ideas independently. Thus, products and implementations for the customer can come about, which bring him a high business value, which was created for him by the development team.


360° Feedback

To be able to give constructive feedback as well as to accept it is an important virtue and high art. Feedback can be given not only top down, but also bottom up. Special forms of communication are necessary to prevent concern about consequences.

With anonymous 360 ° feedback, executives and decision makers are evaluated by the teams. The people receive feedback from all the people they are dealing with in the organization, including colleagues and employees.

The results are then compared with the own assessment and with the Agile Coach or the HR responsible specific measures for improvement will be implemented.


Dealing with the „Worst Case Scenario“

Playfully, the "emergency case" can be rehearsed in a workshop with various team members. The participants can either come from the same team or form a group from several teams. The Agile Coach moderates and guides the group carefully and is responsible for ensuring that the playful atmosphere is given at all times.

The following two scenarios are now being staged: 1. What can happen to make the project, the department or the company fail? 2. How can the project, the department or the company be rescued and rebuilt?

In this workshop, the participants have to leave their usual roles and take on different perspectives. In most cases, this leads to new insights and better long-term decisions and minimizes concerns about uncertain future prospects.


Open Space Center

Open Space Centers are special days, where managers are fully available to their employees. In one-to-one interviews, lunch talks, group discussions or workshops new ideas can be presented, feedback expressed and common plans and ideas for the future discussed.

In order to relax the atmosphere and break the ice, a common breakfast is a good start. The Open Space Center aims to minimize the distance between decision makers and employees and to facilitate the positive exchange within the company in an informal and pleasant environment.


Invite Experts

Bring in experts and hold interesting workshops and lectures with national and international speakers who are visionaries, trailblazers and inspirations in their field to learn from them.


Try the different possibilities with your teams, experiment and give yourself and your organization the GO to become a learning organization with a positive culture of mistakes, where continuous improvement and lifelong learning become a matter of course.


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About the author:

Christina Schwarz

Scrum Master / People Line Manager

The certified Scrum Master with years of experience in coaching teams and individuals is thrilled with an agile mindset. It helps teams become more efficient, successful and satisfied. Christina especially motivates the positive surprises that await us outside the comfort zone.

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